This year’s Lincoln Academy Student Art Show opens with a reception on Thursday, March 31 from 5-7 pm at the River Arts Gallery at 241 US Rt. 1 in Damariscotta.The show will remain at River Arts until April 14 for those who miss the opening reception.
More than 70 Lincoln Academy art students will be showing work they have done over the course of the school year, which ranges from ceramics and metal sculpture to paintings, drawings, photography, quilling, prints, and mixed media. Many of the pieces will be for sale. Preparing their artwork to show to not only the school community, but the general public gives students the opportunity to complete pieces, choose their best work, and frame or “curate” the work for display.
“It is unique for a high school show to be off campus in a professional gallery,” said Jonathan Mess, a Visual Arts Teacher who teaches ceramics and 3D art Lincoln Academy. “It raises the stakes when you know it’s going up for literally everyone to see.”
“Showing work outside of the classroom is an important step in the development of a student artist, said Nina Sylvia, a Lincoln Academy visual art teacher who teaches 2D art, including drawing, painting, printmaking, and photography. “[The show] is a chance for them to hear feedback from someone other than their teachers; sometimes it reinforces feedback and sometimes it gives them a fresh view of their work.”
The LA Student Art Show is always well attended. Last year hundreds of supporters of the arts, including parents, teachers, peers, and local patrons of the arts filled the River Arts gallery during the opening reception, and many bought pieces of art from the students.
“For me the most exciting part of the art show is seeing the little red sticker go up next to a piece,” said Lincoln Academy senior Maggie Weiss, who plans to go to art school after she graduates this spring. “Selling your art is really rewarding because it shows that someone appreciates what you make enough to spend their hard earned money on it.”
Having a chance to sell their work, even though that is exciting, is not the only purpose of the show. There are long-reaching educational benefits of young artists showing their work to the public.
“This show provides students a chance to look back on a body of work they have done over the last six months, evaluate their strengths and make improvements to pieces with potential,” says Sylvia. The students “experience the excitement and trepidation of being present at the opening while friends, family, and strangers see the work.”
“We go through the entire process that any professional artist would go through before a big show,” continued Mess, “working towards a deadline, then editing and selecting quality work, thinking about a balanced show, titling, pricing the work, writing an artist statement and finally, installing the work into the gallery. This is an experience that most people do not ever have. It brings a sense of pride to what we do and what students make.”
Lincoln Academy offers a wide diversity of offerings in Visual Arts, ranging from the traditional high school art classes like Art Fundamentals, drawing, and painting, to more specialized classes like ceramics, screen printing, and metal sculpture. “We are so lucky to have such a great art program at LA and without it I really don’t think that I’d be headed to art school next year,” said senior Maggie Weiss. “Focusing in ceramics, I am especially thankful to have our program because I know that a lot of other schools in the area don’t have 3D programs.”
The Student Art Show is a required part of some of LA’s art courses, and the visual art teachers use it as the final goal post that pushes students to finish and critique their pieces in order to select the very best work for the show.
Mess explains, “The ceramic work in this show is the culmination of the entire year’s process of art-making and discovery of self through materials. Students lay out have everything they have made since the beginning of the school year. Most students enter my class as true beginners, and now have a new language and a vast material knowledge of this medium. They literally see their growth and are able to select the best pieces from their body of work.”
Mess sees the “creativity and problem solving” involved in preparing for the show as not only an essential component of an art education, but skills that are critical for any career. “In the big picture of things I believe this will translate into excellent problem solving in any career,” he explains. “Creativity and problem solving [are the skills you need] to get ahead in life. If you are going to be working in construction, the President of The United States, a fisherman, or the top CEO of a large company, creativity and problem solving is what will push the world towards a better place.”
The Lincoln Academy Student Art Show, including the reception on March 31, is open to the public.